Mughal jewels: A collector’s treasure

Find an heirloom at the Zenaini Art Gallery.


PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO/saadia Qamar December 26, 2013
Jewellery designer Ahmed Haroon Khan doesn’t compromise when it comes to the quality of his wares. PHOTOS: ARIF SOOMRO/EXPRESS

KARACHI:


There is something startling about what Ahmad Haroon Khan designs, alongside his wife, Sofia Khan. Though they have been together for twenty one years, their business partnership is just over thirteen years old. The duo designs jewels that are a throwback to the lavish glamour that defined a significant historical period in time — the Mughal empire.


At the Zenaini Art Gallery, located off Tauheed Commercial 26 Street, a jewels exhibition is currently underway, where one can find elaborate pieces, made primarily in silver, on display.

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Delving into what inspired him to become a jewellery designer, Haroon tells The Express Tribune, “We were in India about thirteen years ago, and at a ball there I saw elegantly dressed women. They were wearing this remarkable jewellery, and I became enchanted with the idea of designing such jewels myself.”

Haroon turned this fascination into his profession, and now designs jewellery, using diamond polki powder mixed in kundun to make breathtaking kundun polki pieces. He says, “The jewels that I design are all the rage in Dubai! Our work is in silver, and our pieces are so immaculate that I refuse to accept them from my karigaars if they aren’t absolutely identical.”

Of his inspiration for his latest collection, he says, “My love for the royalty of the East is captured in this collection. I have designed Turkish delights along with Victorian pieces in my earlier exhibitions. It is mainly a love for the sub-continent, and the period which we identify as the Mughal era, which I have drawn from.”

The collection, comprising 100 or so pieces, includes bangles, earrings, cocktail rings and even bridal sets, which are primarily inspired by what Queen Nur Jehan or Princess Arjumand Bano wore during their reign. Mostly composed of kundun polki sets, there are also precious stones such as emerald, rubies and pearl used in this collection.

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Employing karigaars based in India for this specific Mughal collection, artisans from Jodhpur and Rajasthan have worked on the hundred pieces tirelessly. The karigaars rely on traditional designs passed down from their ancestors, who belonged to the times of last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Haroon also draws inspiration for his Mughal replica jewels from the vast collection of books that he has on the subject.

His very first jewels exhibition took place in the year 2000 in Karachi, and he returns to the city of lights once again for this exhibition. He says, “Karachi is the best place for the sake of exposure. In Islamabad and Lahore, people are almost always looking for real gold.”Despite consecutive exhibitions taking place, Haroon and Sofia both feel that it will be unwise to set up a store. Sofia says, “Setting up shop means going completely commercial, and the exhibition itself loses its charm.”

Haroon expects to show his next collection, a Nizam of Hyderabad inspired one, in March or April of 2014.


Price range


Bridal sets Rs55,000 to Rs200,000

Cocktail rings Rs18,000 to Rs30,000

Earrings Rs10,000 to Rs50,000

Bangles Rs14,000 to Rs45,000

The exhibition continues till the 27th of December 2013 at the art gallery.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2013.

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